Imperial Tobacco has returned to profit for the past half-year, with strong growth in the roll-your-own market driving sales in the past six months.

For the six months to March, Imperial made pre-tax profits of £974m, compared to a pre-tax loss of £184m the year before. Sales rose 8% to £13.4bn.

Pre-rolled volumes fell by 3.7% to 147 billion sticks while RYO tobacco sales were up 10% to 13,300 tonnes.

The news is a boost for Imperial after last week being slapped with a record £112.3m fine with for "unlawful practices" over price-setting.

“We are focused on maintaining this growth momentum and are encouraged by the upward trend of our most recent cigarette shares in a number of mature and emerging markets,” said UK chief executive Gareth Davis.

Yesterday the Lambert & Butler maker, along with rival JTI, launched a judicial review of the UK tobacco display ban that is due to come into force next year.

The Conservative Party has backed the legal challenge.

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